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NHL will interview Lightning's Ian Cole during investigation

10:52 PM ET
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    Emily KaplanESPN

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole will have an in-person interview on Wednesday in New York as part of the NHL's investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him, sources told ESPN.


Cole will be interviewed by Jared Maples, the NHL's chief security officer.


Cole was suspended by the Lightning on Sunday after a Twitter user who identified herself as Emily Smith posted that she was sexually abused and groomed by Cole when she was a minor. In a statement released through his agent, Cole said he would cooperate with the investigation and "looked forward to clearing my name and demonstrating to the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning that these allegations are unfounded."


Maples joined the NHL in 2021 after serving as the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. Maples has been involved in other league investigations, including last season when Evander Kane, then a forward for the San Jose Sharks, who is now with the Edmonton Oilers.

According to sources, it was the Lightning who decided to suspend Cole until the completion of the league's investigation.


The 33-year-old defenseman, who is entering his 13th NHL season, signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent this summer on a one-year, $3 million deal.


The Lightning open the season on Tuesday night in New York for an Eastern Conference finals rematch against the New York Rangers.

The allegations against Cole were made on Oct. 7.


Smith posted on Twitter that she was groomed by Cole for years, "starting when I was a minor in high school," and noted that Cole was "well aware of my age" at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.


"As a teen, I didn't even know what grooming was," she wrote.


"When you're young and this happens to you, you don't realize you are a victim. As I got older and built self-esteem, I started to fully understand the extent of what happened to me and that this could never have been consensual."

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Looks like it was bunk after all.....


Lightning reinstates Ian Cole after NHL closes investigation

6:47 PM ET
  • kaplan_emily.png&h=80&w=80&scale=crop
    Emily KaplanESPN

The NHL said it found no evidence to substantiate sexual misconduct allegations against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole and considers the matter closed.

Cole was immediately reinstated by the Lightning, who had suspended him with pay.


"I'm grateful for the opportunity to respond to and refute the anonymous allegations made against me, which I categorically deny," Cole said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to returning to the ice with my teammates and will have no further comments on this matter going forward."

An anonymous user posted a lengthy statement on Twitter on Oct. 7 accusing Cole, 33, of sexually abusing and grooming her as a minor. The person, who identified herself as "Emily Smith," said she initially met Cole while she was in high school and that they had a relationship lasting four years.


The league's investigation lasted a week and was conducted by the NHL security and legal departments. The NHL said it was unable to contact the source of the Twitter account.


The league said it did a detailed review of online and social media, public data and court records as well as law enforcement checks, plus interviews with Cole and "other individuals with potentially relevant information."

The NHLPA issued a statement saying that while it was "pleased" that the situation had been resolved, the union is is concerned about the precedent of suspending a player based on anonymous allegations.


"Players should never be subject to suspension or discipline in response to unsubstantiated and anonymous accusations," the NHLPA statement said. "Removing a player from his team under these circumstances is inappropriate and grossly unfair."

The NHLPA said it would talk with the league about how to address any similar situations in the future.

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I am glad Cole was cleared and can now go back to doing what he loves: Playing hockey.
If for some reason, he managed to side step some things and it later comes out he WAS guilty, then I hope the law throws the entire book at him and he rots in jail, abused himself, for as long as possible.

But, will take this on face value for what it is, I will welcome Ian Cole the player back to my team from my fan's point of view and hope that his veteran presence works as intended when the Lightning first decided to sign him, as they could sure use some stability early on in the season.

As for the NHLPA being concerned about how the Lightning handled this (removing Cole from the team until this was resolved), I get it. They don't want their players railroaded, losing playing time, and all because someone decided they want a pay out of some sort.

But at the same time, I feel the Bolts did the RIGHT THING:

1-- This investigation would have been a distraction. No one can tell me that after every game the Bolts would have played with Cole on the team that some media person, fans, or whomever, would ask, tweet, or otherwise inquire (probably directly to Cole) about these allegations....putting the hockey part of things in the back burner while people scrounge for controversy.
I am sure people STILL may have asked about it, but it was much easier to sidestep if the player isn't there, and Cole himself wasn't subjected to 'on the spot' questioning by those looking for a story.

2-- The Bolts did remove him from the team, but they STILL paid him.
Yes, i know, he still lost playing time, but he didn't lose the ability to continue to provide for his family. I think it was a good compromise given the situation, and what I outlined above.

3-- Even though these allegations turned out to be just that...allegations...it is good to know the team took these serious enough to warrant removing the player because, if they are wrong about it (as it appears in this case), they owe Cole a big apology, but can still feel good about themselves because they did things right.
Better to play it safe here than to behave in a manner that projects that the team only cares about W's on the ice over the welfare of abused minors.

If the allegations turned out to be true, then not only would have the offender been already removed, he can now easily enough be terminated for breach of contract via some code of conduct rules....not to mention BREAKING THE FREAKIN LAW.

Again...I am glad Ian Cole has passed this, and really do NOT want to hear that new evidence came up that would find him guilty.
If that is the case, shame on those people who 'missed' whatever it was, and also in that case, Ian Cole, I hope you have a miserable rest of your life as someone's prison wife for those horrible, horrible things done to those children.

So....with all that out of the way...
Welcome back to Tampa Bay, Ian Cole....your tenure in the season can now officially start. 

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On 10/10/2022 at 9:30 AM, yave1964 said:

oh boy. ugh. innocent until proven otherwise but if true a sad day for the game.

Innocent until proven guilty is important. Particularly when the only evidence is a twitter account who made the account 2 days before the accusation and then ghosted. Anyone could do that from a starbucks cafe wifi on a burner phone. It's simple as hell. They regularly organize fake twitter bombs like that on sites like 4chan and then laugh at the outcomes.



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I totally agree with the NHLPA on this one. Innocent until proven guilty, not the other way round. And the nasty thing is even if Cole is now cleared, the popular trial already gave its verdict.


Social media is such a cancer.

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7 hours ago, Math said:

I totally agree with the NHLPA on this one. Innocent until proven guilty, not the other way round.


To suspend a guy (with pay) for an anonymous accusation is absolutely ridiculous.  The precedent is astonishing, actually.


Picture a similar situation happening at the start of a playoff round? Insanity.

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